Sunday, 4 September 2016
Now Teresa May (in China) is really having to engage with Brexit. Who would like to challenge me if I said Britain has not faced a situation like this since the Reformation? On that occasion, one man King Henry VIII "caused" the situation. Today the populace through the referendum have "caused" it. Otherwise the situation is very similar. The core issue was about who rules (Europe, then Rome) or the nation state. King Henry VIII ( to suit his love life) decided for England. But what it meant, no-one really knew, and in the end England invented its own classic fudge, the sweet reasonableness of Anglicanism in considerable contrast to the other European solutions of Luther and Calvin. This took decades to work out (and a considerable amount of blood). I don't see any early judgement on what Brexit means. Our prime minister clearly does not intend Brexit to mean what many Brexiteers (including some in her cabinet) want it to mean. To be honest, I simply don't know (and doubt many of us do) how to control immigration. It would seem May who has had charge of the issue for several years has no clear idea herself. We are into make your own fudge territory for a long while ahead. What would I have done in the 1530-1660 period? I would have sought to have stayed alive, compromised my principles, encouraged everyone to stop killing one another in the name of God and generally calm down, and welcomed the Restoration with great joy. This application of 21st century reason would probably have got me killed anyway (claiming to deny that you could kill in the name of God, it certainly did not do many Levellers much good). So these are difficult times and in short order that "dammed referendum" will have achieved nothing. Whether in 10-20 years time we will feel more sanguine, and applaud our brave stance against the supra-national state, I have no idea but hope and pray I may last to see whether the vote was wise. For sure this autumn the issue will not leave a screen near you and I do prophesy it still has the power to blast the Tory party apart.